Can a Filipino make it to the NBA?

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Friday, October 11, 2013

IT IS one of the most asked questions every time an NBA star player or a league executive visits the Philippines for some engagements. On Thursday, outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern finally gave his two cents.

"I'm sure there are Filipino athletes that will be competent and capable of playing in the NBA. It's going to depend upon how committed they are to making that next step," he told reporters before the pre-season game between the Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets.

MANILA. NBA Commissioner David Stern thinks a Filipino can play in the world's premier basketball league as long as he values hardwork and discipline. (Contributed photo)

Stern said an aspiring NBA player should value hardwork and discipline.

"Increasingly, what you're beginning to see is that our players don't just make it to the league because they're great athletes. They work very hard, they practice, practice, practice. In the summertime they go to their own training regimen, they go to different places where they work with other players," he said.

Some had already tried knocking the doors of the NBA including Gilas Pilipinas member Japeth Aguilar, who went back to the country anyway after he was cut from developmental league team Santa Cruz Warriors in November 2012.

National University stalwart Bobby Ray Parks, meanwhile, repeatedly expressed his desire to make it to the league someday.

The NBA is still dominated by homegrown talents with the addition of European and South American players. Asians hardly make it to the league, unless you are Chinese giant Yao Ming, who was the top pick in the 2002 draft.

Yao had eight injury-plagued seasons with the Rockets, where once overlooked Jeremy Lin transferred after he burst into the scene with the New York Knicks early last year.

Stern said the developmental league helped Lin, NBA's first American-born player of Taiwanese descent, mature in a "little, different way."

"That's a place where players who were just the last cut, rather than looking overseas, get an opportunity to play in an improved setting where their tapes or actually not so much their tapes, streaming of their games keeps them in the attention span of our NBA teams, and that's what happened with Jeremy Lin," he said.

While waiting for a Filipino donning an NBA jersey, Filipino-American coach Erik Spoelstra of back-to-back champion Miami Heat has already gained the respect of his peers.

NBA legend Larry Bird, now Pacers president for basketball operations, said Spoelstra had done a great job, especially in handling his talent-laden team led by four-time Most Valuable Player Lebron James.

"He's got a lot of scrutiny going on and he has a very tough job going for him, but I think he's handled it the best he possibly could," said Bird.

The Pacers will try to knock the Heat off their perch in the 2013-2014 season, which begins on October 29. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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